Iowans Testify for Death with Dignity Act

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Lawmakers began discussing medical assisted suicide at the statehouse Wednesday.

It is already legal in five states, and a bill introduced as the Iowa Death with Dignity Act would make Iowa the sixth state if passed.

The bill would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults to request medication to end their own lives.

“Aid in dying emphasizes autonomy and personal choice. It supports the right to make health care decisions in accordance with one`s personal values, beliefs and wishes,” said Sen. Joe Bolkom.

Several Iowans testified Wednesday in support of the bill, including John Tapscott.

Tapscott supported the death with dignity movement while serving in the Iowa House and Senate in the 60s and 70s. Now, he’s an even bigger advocate since he’s facing his own terminal illness.

“This last year helped me gain an even better understanding of the importance of having end-of-life choices. At this stage, I know there are things far worse than death, such as the possibility of being totally incapacitated,” Tapscott said.

He was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition in October of 2014.

Jennifer Holm also testified.

'When I’m not longer able to care for myself, when I’m sleeping all the time and I have no idea who’s by my side and who’s not, and my quality of life is poor my body is shutting down, I don’t want to drag out the inevitable,” Holm said.

The bill has several safeguards to ensure the patient always remains in control even in death -- an option Tapscott believes all Iowans deserve.

“If this bill would become law, it is too late in my terminal illness for me to use, if I were so inclined. However, I hope that my end of life experiences might help others have this additional option,” he said.

More testimony is expected when the bill is discussed in sub-committee.

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